"Growing up, my dad and grandfather constructed and built houses and my mother was an interior designer. I went to school at the Minnesota Zoo for two years for environmental studies. It was one of the very first schools of its kind designed to foster collaborative and multidisciplinary learning. My middle school was the first open-plan school design using architecture to influence behavior (or reflect it), and my high school was designed by a local Twin Cities firm. In addition, consuming architecture throughout my years and traveling to Europe was also a huge influence. I later wrote my thesis on educational facilities because I was inspired by my high school education. I later was able to work for the project for which my thesis was written. I’ve also had many great mentors throughout the years.”
“I started out in computer science during my first year of college. As my dad explained it to me, as a woman, going into computer science would mean that I could write my own ticket. After just a few classes I quickly realized there was no passion in that for me. I didn’t love it.
So I earned my degree in political science with a minor in history and a concentration in secondary education. I graduated cum laude with high honors despite the financial necessity to work 25 to 30 hours per week. In my final year at Towson University, I was offered the opportunity by the dean of the political science program to go to law school at Duke University, and I really considered it. But I had a lot of student loans and I couldn’t imagine piling on more debt. I had fulfilled my student teaching requirement at a local school and I figured that I would get a job there. I was offered a position within six months.”
“The number one thing was that my parents exposed me to travel at a young age, and travel has continued to be an inspiration throughout my life. Cultures, cities, people and diverse ideas influence my passion for urban design, but also my passion for the uniqueness of different places: How the city of Paris is uniquely different from San Francisco or Shanghai, for example. It inspires me to want to help enhance the uniqueness of place through intentional design.”
“I am inspired by the art of storytelling and how it shows the courage and strength of people facing overwhelming situations. Professionally, I draw design inspiration from photos, magazine articles and technical drawings. Personally, learning how others overcame adversity, defied all odds — or just took the long way around — provides a source of energy that helps me to keep moving along my path and setting new goals.”